Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Day 21 - Job+Holiday = Stress; Get some perspective this season

National Career Development Month

This is an article I wrote originally in 2001 and have updated it yearly since then. I hope this abridged version helps you get some perspective this holiday season.

Through recent research, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reported that 40% of workers reported that their job was very or extremely stressful. A 2000 Integra Survey also reported that 62% of workers routinely find that they end the day with work-related neck pain, 44% reported stressed-out eyes, 38% complained of hurting hands and 34% reported difficulty sleeping because they were too stressed-out. As year end approaches and they worry about personal security and their family’s well being, holiday activities which should be relaxing, tend to add to the stress felt by employees.

At this time of year employers and employees may often have conflicting priorities caused by pressures of too many projects, busy schedules and too little time. At a time when companies are trying to meet deadlines, finalizing budgets for next year, generating sales to get them into the black and wrap up year-end paperwork, workers might be stressing over their own Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday planning and rapidly approaching work deadlines. While businesses are focused on increased potential holiday revenues, workers are preparing to welcome friends or families while still trying to stay on top of what’s happening at the office. The pressures increase significantly when family and business collide, when you are entrepreneur and employee, rolled into one.

Many experience guilt and anxiety from having to choose between holiday programs at their kids’ schools, or working overtime to meet shipping deadlines. Many employers worry about holiday budgets and stress over employees’ reaction to smaller or sometimes nonexistent bonuses if an off year. Some employees will feel resentment about assignments that delay plans to decorate their houses like those on magazine covers that tantalize all of us as we wait in endless supermarket lines. Working Dads will feel inadequate when, because of work schedules, their house is the only one on the block still without lights a few days before the big day and working Moms will feel guilty for resorting to burning “Fresh Baked Cookie Dough” candles, since there was no time to bake. Many will be especially frustrated because we are too tired to participate in spiritual events as planned during the season.

For those of us who love our work we find ways to balance the two, knowing that this season will pass and next year will be here before we know it. For those already dissatisfied with their jobs, careers and organizations, routine tasks become unbearable, productivity declines further and going to work feels like walking a tightrope. The following few suggestions might help us get some perspective this 2007 holiday season.

-Identify what is important and plan your time to accomplish only those things - Our productivity will improve because of it.

-Ask for help and support from friends, family, co-workers, bosses and neighbors - Our relationships will grow from it.

-Stay flexible and open to all possibilities - Our sanity depends on it.

-Take walks with your families to admire the colors and decorations around you - Our bodies will thank us for it.

-Encourage communication in the workplace to resolve conflicts around time and projects - Our coworkers will support us for it.

-Managers should be flexible enough to support employees’ family commitments - Our organizations will be better for it.

-Employees should develop an appreciation and respect for company bottom lines - Our economy will grow from it.

-Focus on the pure simple truths of the holidays - Our communities will be better for it.

-Take time to be thankful we live in America - Our futures depend on it.

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